Raw living: be your own guru

You are what you eat

You are what you eat

I’ve been re-reading this post by Emma at Raw Food Scotland and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning for some time to write a post on how to manage introducing more raw, healthy foods into your life in your own time and in your own way.

Like Emma says, the information out there can be extremely overwhelming, and you do sometimes feel like it’s all weighing you down, as if you’re somehow not doing it ‘right’, and you wonder who you should be listening to. And really, the answer to that last bit is quite simple: you should be listening to YOU.

When you start out exploring the raw thing, you’re bound to be influenced by anybody and everybody who ever utters the word ‘raw’. What you tend to forget, however, is that these people aren’t living your life – YOU are.

Take Kate Magic, for example. I really admire this woman. She’s bringing up three kids, running Raw Living, posting to Kate’s Bubble, promoting herself on Facebook, and doing God knows how many talks and courses every week/month/year. Some of her recipes are really fab (I’m a big fan of her kale chips), but the vast majority of her recipes use several expensive ingredients, and some recipes use ridiculous amounts of superfoods. Some of the cakes on Raw Living cost over £30 each to buy ready-made – hardly surprising, given the number of superfoods in them. Unless you’re pretty wealthy, you’re not going to be able to afford all these ingredients, certainly not in the quantities you’d use if you lived entirely on Kate’s recipes. She’s a worthy ‘guru’, is Kate, but my life couldn’t be more different to hers.

Then there’s Shazzie – another one who laces everything with superfoods. The more cynical among us might say that this is because Shazzie and Kate both sell superfoods on their websites, so it’s in their interests to create recipes that mean people have to spend shitloads of money on ingredients. I’m not sure one way or another, to be honest; I like to believe the best things about people but these women are business owners, after all. I will say though, that in the beginning I quite admired Shazzie, but her heavy-handed sales tactics, non-stop sales emails, “American long copy”-style web pages selling e-books and courses, and the trying to actually sell herself as a spiritual guru quite frankly irritate the hell out of me.

For a while there I got really into Russell James. But all his recipes (a) consist mainly of nuts, which make my weight balloon, and (b) take half a week to make (I may be exaggerating a little there, but you know what I mean – gourmet raw is definitely best saved for special occasions or when you have a couple of days to spare).

Jason Vale is cool, but it’s all about the juice. I did his 7lbs in 7days program and was hungry, bored and miserable for a week. I lost 6lbs which was nice, but over the next few weeks the weight started to creep back up again (all lost again now, and back under control, and gradually reducing, thank God). I can’t live my life on just juice or just salad or just anything; I enjoy my food too much for that! Never again. I might do a 3 day juice cleanse once in a while in the future, but I’d never do a week of it again – not on your nellie!

I like Peter Pure too – he is bonkers in a good way – but the “bread is totally evil” thing leaves me a bit bemused. I lived with coeliac’s disease until I suddenly, unexpectedly, grew out of it at 16 (you’re supposed to have it for life, apparently – umm, not me!) so I’ve never developed a taste for bread, particularly – but I’m still partial to the occasional just-from-the-oven ciabatta dipped in top-notch olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I don’t do it often, but I reserve my right to do it if I fancy it!

In the beginning, when you’re still learning all your raw techniques and raw alchemy methods (who knew you could make a sweet ‘butter icing’ from cashews, or lime mousse from avocados?) it’s natural that you’ll be heavily influenced by others with more experience and knowledge. But as time goes on, here’s what you learn:

The only raw food guru you need is YOU.

Only YOU know what you like and dislike, what makes you itch or upsets your tummy or makes you put on (or lose) weight. Only YOU know how much time you can afford to spend on preparing a raw cake, or how much money you can afford to spend on ingredients.

You are all individuals! Bloody wonderful once you admit it, isn’t it? :) I absolutely insist that you press ‘play’ on this video, right now, for the best piece of advice that any ‘guru’ will ever give you. You can thank me in the comments, mkay? :)

Once you’ve learned what you need to learn – your basic raw techniques and all that – you will find you slip into your own natural raw rhythm. It doesn’t take long to discover that actually, you can manage pretty well without all the gurus, without quantum cake and without half a ton of he shou wou every day. In the beginning I was all about the dehydrated snacks and the superfoods (and doesn’t my bank account know it!) and the kale chips and non-stop bloody salad (and I still don’t enjoy salad very much, no matter how good it is for me; it’s something I eat because I should, rarely because I fancy it). But these days, my day goes pretty much like this:

  • Homeopathic remedy on waking, then cup of tea, then wheatgrass, barley grass and milk thistle in a big glass of water
  • Green juice for breakfast
  • As much water as I can manage thoughout the day (usually 3-4 pints a day)
  • A fabulous smoothie for lunch, which usually includes cacao powder because it’s a great way to hide the manky taste of maca, which I try to take daily, and I always pop other superfoods into it too
  • My fridge always has home made raw chocolate in it. That’s the law. I eat several chunks a day, safe in the knowledge it’s good for me.
  • When Dewi comes home he’ll often fancy a juice, so I’ll make one for both of us.
  • For dinner, I eat whatever I want to eat. Tonight it’s king prawns with salad and jacket potatoes. Last night it was a takeaway curry. Tomorrow night it’s leftover home made bulgar wheat paella (cooked it Saturday night and froze the leftovers – bulgar wheat is much healthier than rice and tastes bloody marvellous). With the exception of the takeaways (we’ll have one or two a month on average), everything I eat is made from fresh ingredients and I never, I repeat NEVER, eat ready meals.

And that’s the pattern I’ve settled into. It’s the right pattern for ME. I don’t feel the need to be any more raw than I am – not at the moment, anyway. I’m getting the benefits of all the bloody fabulous stuff I put into my body during the day – the juices, the water, the smoothies, the chocolate – but I’m also able to eat what I want for dinner. I still sit on my arse all day and don’t go out of my way to exercise – but I do work in the garden most weekends, and do housework, and go out shopping or whatever, so my weekends are usually pretty active. And the best thing is… I’m still losing weight. How fab is that? 16lbs so far this year, effortlessly. Fan-bloody-tastic!

People often don’t believe this, but I swear it’s true: the more good things you put in your body, the less you will crave bad things. I can’t remember the last time I fancied a bag of crisps or a packet of sweets. Genuinely. By the tail end of 2011 I was living on a diet (during the day anyway) that consisted of a bar of chocolate (usually a Snickers or a Bounty – check out Rebecca’s raw versions of these, by the way – they’re fab!), a packet of sweets (usually the old-fashioned shrimps and bananas, remember those? Pure sugar, ick!) and a packet of Wotsits. I can honestly say that since I started living more raw-ly, I have not once fancied any of these things. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I had a fizzy drink, or even wanted one (I used to love Red Bull, and if I was out and about I’d keep a 500ml bottle of diet coke in my handbag; these days it’s water all the way, baby!). Seriously – just keep piling the good stuff into your gob and the bad stuff will very soon become a bad memory.

That is the pattern I’ve settled into, and it works for me. But it probably won’t work for you. You have to find your own way. In the wise words of Brian: you don’t need to follow ANYBODY! You are all individuals! It’s time to be your own guru. Do what you know is best for YOU, find your own rhythm, and be the happy bunny you were born to be. And that is the closest to guruhood I am ever going to get :)


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5 Responses to “Raw living: be your own guru”

  1. VERY good advice! :-) I’ve been 100% at-home raw foodie since the end of January this year and tried out a few different versions of things, taking advice from each of the gurus you’ve listed above but it’s only now (6-7 months down the line!) that I’m finally finding my own rythym and what does/doesn’t work for me – and that’s OK – in fact, it’s the best thing ever becasue you know you’re doing what’s best for you :-)

    Also, I’m happy to say that in the past 2 – 3 weeks, my cravings for cooked food have declined dramatically! I craved it so much in the beginning and at one point it didn’t seem to get any easier but now I’m getting to the stage where the last few cooked meals I’ve had (on the odd occasion), have given me a small food-hangover and in all honesty, I didn’t even enjoy the taste that much!
    Like you say, the more good stuff you put in, the more your own body lets you know about the stuff you don’t need anymore.

    It seems to have taken me a lot longer to get to this stage than others I know, but I’m so glad to finally be here and I hope it continues :-)
    Just a few weeks ago I was hoping to be able to migrate back to some cooked food measl in the evening and I thought that’s where I was headed but now I seem to have gone off in the other direction! Isn’t that strange? You just never know how things are going to change :-)

    I’m thinking about doing a raw food Christmas this year after last years made me feel like hell for a week afterwards – I had to do a 3 day juice fast to try and get over it!
    Although, I do see that we differ there – I think the Juicemaster’s programs are fab and one of them inparticular has changed my life and had the best impact on my health that anyone has ever given me, therefore Jason Vale will always be a guru of mine and I will forever be a juicemonster! Hehe! ;-)

    However, I must agree with you on your take of Shazzie – I actually bought one of her programs right at the very beginning but the more e-mails I receive from her the more I’m drifitng off a bit. . .also, I don’t agree with some of her advice about nutritional supplements but hey, that’s a different matter. . .

    What I will comment on though is your raw chocolate habit! (I hope you don’t mind!?) I too used to LOVE this, (especially the ombars that I can’t wait to try your recipe for btw, thank you!) but the more I researched healthy living, the more bad news I was finding out about cocoa/cacao – therefore, I replace it with carob nowadays and feel better for it. . . I won’t go into any horror stories for you on here but I do urge you to maybe look into that in the future, if you feel that your health aims are getting more hardcore?

    Anyway, I could go on but I’ll stop myself here – best of luck on your health journey and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your recipes posted soon! Really looking forward to trying out the turkish delight! Yum! :-)


    • Hi Bex and thanks for taking the time to comment :)

      I think everyone’s different and while some people are happy on 100% raw I can’t see myself ever wanting to do it! But I do try to make up for any naughtiness by eating as much good stuff as I can. For example – going away for a long weekend in a caravan camp with 50+ friends and relatives soon, and I know I’ll be drinking alcohol (something I don’t do much of usually) and eating all manner of crap (as you do at the seaside), so I’m taking my hand blender and a jug, and some superfoods, fruit, mineral water and other healthy ingredients, so that I can have a healthy superfood smoothie for breakfast every day while I’m away. Then I won’t feel quite so guilty about the fish and chips ;)

      I don’t think I have a habit with chocolate, I think in this article I may have exaggerated a little! :) I only have 1-2 pieces a day, 4 maximum (many days, none at all) – I don’t really need any more than that, apart from when I’m premenstrual and might eat a bit more. Raw chocolate is so intense, I find it very difficult to binge on it! Haven’t heard any bad stories at all about cacao so I’d be interested to know what those are. Don’t like carob, won’t be changing to that any time soon I’m afraid :) I bought some back in January for a recipe I’d found online, but the flavour is disgusting compared to cacao so it’s sitting unused in the cupboard :)

      Anyway, good luck making the Turkish delight – hope you enjoy it, it’s very tasty! :)

      Debs x

    • Also to add – I love Jason Vale, I really do, and I still juice regularly – it’s just that he concentrates only on juices so it can be a bit one-sided if you’re starting out and want to know more about raw food generally. I guess I must not have put that across properly in the post! :)

  2. Yep it’s all about the individual!! Love it Debs ;)

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